The Bergen Line That Almost Wasn't
Hudson County has always been an integral part of railroad history. Those who were around the 1970s will recall the vast rail yards that spread across our river front. These networks of track would ultimately give way to the modern developments we see today. Whether transporting goods or shuffling people to and from their daily business trains (and trolleys to be sure) are the blood that flows through the complex arteries that penetrate the area. The railways of Hudson County even played a major role during war times; whether it was shipping the Hudson County Brigade off to battle during the Civil War or sadly, transporting our fallen soldiers to their final destinations, the railroads of Hudson County were the mechanism by which our cities grew culturally and commercially.
This transportation-driven success is probably most evident in Bergenline Avenue. As anyone from the area can attest, Bergenline Avenue has been the cultural and commercial center of the North Hudson universe as far as we could remember. It was usually Bergenline Avenue where we met our friends, walked to the store and idled away countless hours looking at store fronts. But how did this wide cowpath become the focal center?
We can likely thank one man for the happy coincidence that would give birth to modern Bergenline Avenue. Not much is known about Mr. Henry Kohlmeier of Union City except that he had quite the influence in the budding town of Union City. City planners were looking to expand the transportation options for the citizens of the growing community by laying down new tracks for the trolley system. Originally planned for Palisades Avenue, the plan was met with protest by Mr. Kohlmeier who did not want to have his auditory senses assaulted by the racket these new-fangled trolley things made and so he managed to convince the city planners to lay the track on Bergenline Avenue instead. As they say, the rest is history. The newly developed track would become the Bergen Line and a commercial gold rush was born.
If you walk around the neighborhood you will occasionally see a glimpse of the tracks that run just below the streets. It is a reminder that progress has a long history and specifically that advancements in transportation drives business and population growth. One could say with certainty that Bergenline Avenue is the commercial success it is today because of the tracks that were laid over a century ago.
As for Mr. Kohlmeier, well sir you missed out on one of the greatest commercial opportunities of all time.